Georgia Aspinall | Contributing Writer | Wednesday, 12 April 2017

How Free Range Are Your Eggs?

How Free Range Are Your Eggs?

The Debrief: Think you've been buying free-range this whole time? You might be wrong.

'I’ve started buying free range eggs,' I tell my Vegan friend. I’m hoping for some sort of moral high five despite the fact she would rather I didn’t eat them at all. “You mean, you didn’t before?” Huge fail. Ethical purchases weren’t my priority as a student on a £10 a fortnight food budget but as an actual adult in the real world I can finally afford to have principles. Don’t get me wrong, I was in a minority before. Free range eggs aren’t a luxury anymore, and according to egg info, more than 50% of us are buying them.

We’re becoming a society of cruelty-free shoppers, and supermarkets are taking notice. So, what do they do? Stock more free range eggs would be the most obvious marketing tool. But, no. Instead, they rebrand their value products with names that include the word ‘farm’, so that oblivious pocket-pinching customers like myself will see them right next to the free-range eggs and think ‘oh, these eggs are from chickens on a farm AND their cheaper, WIN.’ 

Asda are the latest in a line of retailers to pull this move. They have recently renamed their Smart Price range to ‘Farm Stores’- which they dropped in 2001 so they could rebrand to include a wider range of cheap products. A spokesperson for Asda said:

'We’re reconnecting with our heritage by bringing back the Farm Stores brand to Asda – a name that our customers remember and trust for great value quality produce.'

Farmers, however, are not seeing the funny side. Ruth Mason, chief food chain adviser at the National Farmers Union, said: 'Although such rebrands can drive an uplift in sales, in our view it is important that product names and descriptions are clear, accurate and do not mislead consumers. With Asda now using the term ‘farm’ within its branding, it is imperative that the origin of these products is clear to customers.' 

It’s a worrying trend, one that Tesco picked up on in March 2016 when they launched seven brands based on British-sounding fictitious names in their fight to outsell Aldi and Lidl. Names like 'Woodside Farms' and 'Boswell Farms' were used despite the fact the products were not sourced locally. 

Marketing schemes are often walking a fine line between expertly selling a product and misleading consumers, but when it comes to buying cruelty-free food you don’t want to be in the dark. So just HOW free range are your eggs? We’ve had a scroll through the top UK retailers and made a handy list for you to check out your ethical egg purchases. But, some advice the future, make sure your checking out the small print when you pick up a suspiciously happy sounding egg brand- you never know what you’re really buying. 

ASDA

Play it safe with these guys, unless it says it in the name, assume it’s not free-range. 

Tesco

After the marketing blunder back in 2016, there are now only three brands that don’t explicitly say ‘free range' in the title in Tesco. Of those three, Bluebell Araucana and Chesnut Maran are both free range, however Big and Fresh is not. 

Sainsbury’s

The least of the misconceiving labels, Sainsbury’s have it explicitly in the brand name if the eggs are not free range.

Waitrose

You don’t even have to bat an eyelid when shopping in Waitrose, apart from at the price. They only stock free-range eggs. 

Aldi

No flouncy farm names here but it’s safe to assume that in Aldi that unless it say’s it in the title, it’s not free range.

Lidl

The only eggs that are free range in Lidl say it in the brand name. That means Woodcote and Simply…Eggs 100% British are NOT free range. 

Morrisons

Not one to milslead. M Savers, Family Value and Big & Fresh are the only eggs in Morrisons that aren’t free range.  

Marks & Spencer

You can rest easy if you buy your eggs from M&S, they were the first UK retailer to only sell free-range eggs.

Co-Operative

Another retailer taking a stand against animal cruelty, the co-op only sell free-range eggs. 

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